A Manly Summer of Health: By Matt

April 19, 2010 at 1:40 pm 4 comments

Matt here with a quick guest blog post.

I just got my annual physical results back from the doc. Overall, at 32, I’m quite healthy. I weigh less than I did at my wedding (although 3 years ago I was pure muscle which weighs more than fat) and I’m almost 30 pounds lighter than when I met Amanda nearly 7 years ago (has it been that long?)

That being said, my cholesterol, is at 229, which 2 years ago was at 208. It needs to be below 200. (7 years ago it was almost 280).

So my doc read me what I like to call the riot act. Here was his demands: Take the summer to get your cholesterol down on your own through better eating and exercise or I’m putting you on Lipitor.

Liptor does make some sense to me as my whole family is on it and I have a family history of heart disease. Still, being young my goal is to really avoid any medication I can since I don’t want to be on some medication for the next 50 years.

So I wanted to write and put it out there that this is the summer of health. A summer dedicated to eating well, getting into shape both mentally and physically. This means a lot more veggies, a lot more cooking, and lot more working out. (I hate working out).

Can Matt do it? Can Matt reach the goal of 200 by August? Only time will tell.

 Any other guys out there been read the riot act by your doctor? Did you decide to do it yourself or use modern science to do it for you? 

From Amanda:

As Matt works on lowering his cholesterol, there are a few foods  he can eat on his road to success, according to the Mayo Clinic:

Oatmeal/Oatbran: Oatmeal is chock-full of soluble fiber, helping to reduce l0w-density lipoprotein, (LDL), which is the “bad” cholesterol (You can remember LDL as “Lousy).  Other sources of coluble fibers are found in legumes, apples, pears (skins on and organic, when possible), psyllium (dietary supplement), barley, and prumes.  Soluble fiber reduces the absorption of cholesterol in your intestines.  Try topping your oatmeal (not the instant kind) with added fruit and nuts to add on the fiber.

Walnuts: I’ve mentioned before how walnuts are just totally awesome (I call them “Little Brains) Studies show that walnuts can significantly reduce blood cholesterol, as they are rich in polyunsaturated fatty acids, helping to keep blood vessels elastic and healthy.  Eating a handful a day of most nuts, including almonds, too, can help reduce risk of heart disease. Remember, they are high in calories so watch your portion sizes. And if you have trouble digesting nuts, like I sometimes do, try soaking them overnight in water.

Fish and omega-3 fatty acids: Omega-3s are essential to one’s diet. I don’t eat much fish, so I make sure I take my omega-3 fish oil supplements (make sure they are purified and molecularly distilled). To me, taking omega-3’s along with vitamin D are the 2 most important supplements to take.  Omega-3 fatty acids, among many jobs, help to reduce blood pressure and the risk of blood clots.  In terms of fish, doctors recommend eating at least 2 servings of fatty fish each week, including: mackeral, lake trout, herring, sardines, albacore tuna, and salmon.  Personally, I don’t really like most of those, and I eat tuna sparingly, and salmon only when it’s wild (I don’t order Atlantic salmon in restaurants anymore because of the fish farming).  If you’re a vegetarian or don’t like fish, along with the fish oil supplement you can get your omega-3 from ground flaxseed or canola oil.

Olive Oil: EVOO, as Rachel Ray calls it, contains a great mix of antioxidants that can help lower your “Lousy” LDL cholesterol but not touch the good kind, HDL.  To reap its benefits, the FDA recommends using about 2 tablespoons per day to your diet.

Plant Sterols/Stanols: Sterols and stanols are found in plants that help block the absorption of cholesterol and can be found in many food products. Most commonly you’ll find margarines, orange juice, and yogurts fortified with the plant sterols. 

Eating all of this, with greatly reducing his saturated and tans fat intake (less than 10% of his total caloric intake), will certainly help him. Sorry Matt, that means cutting out the burgers and full-fat cheese.

Throughout this week we’ll discuss other methods of helping Matt lower his cholesterol, such as the importance of  fiber intake, exercise, and the question, “Will eating eggs raise my cholesterol?”  Stay tuned!


Entry filed under: nutrition.

Add some fat! Cholesterol Numbers and Ratios Explained

4 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Abbey  |  April 19, 2010 at 1:45 pm

    Hang in there, old man. Actually, the last time I went to the doc, he said my cholesterol was over 200 as well. He said, however, that my number was a bit deceiving because there’s “good cholesterol” and “Bad cholesterol” and he said my high number was due to a high level of good cholesterol. Maybe your brilliant wife can write about the difference?
    No more chili cheese dogs in the Mittfarb household…I know how Amanda always keeps those in the house!

  • 2. Doc G  |  April 19, 2010 at 5:45 pm

    Ok… as the representative MD on this blog… yes Amma… i read your blog pretty regularly… i have to echo Abbey’s sage wisdom… DON”T get caught up in the total cholesterol number ONLY…. Yes, low cholesterol in general IS good… but it is vital to understand the good (HDL)… bad (LDL) number game… and even more importantly is the RATIO… so anything that increases your good cholesterol ( EXERCISE… sorry Goldy… red wine… EVOO… healthy nuts)… are good and anything that lowers your bad cholesterol ( calorie restriction in general) is good… so the DETAILS of your cholesterol paner are important… NOT just the total number…

  • 3. Yael  |  April 21, 2010 at 1:43 pm

    What’s wrong with instant oatmeal!?

    • 4. Amanda  |  April 21, 2010 at 1:57 pm

      Hi Yael, there is nothing wrong with instant oatmeal. It’s healthy (the plain variety, at least, not the ones with added sugar, etc) and a quick and easy breakfast, especially for a busy college student.
      That being said, the reason why it is so quick and easy (and mushy). Nutritionally, plain oatmeal and instant oatmeal are the same (calorie, fat, carbs, etc).
      However, it’s the way that they’re processed which is different.
      Instant oats have been pre-cooked, dried, flattened, and cut into flakes, thus giving you the thinner consistency. Heartier rolled oats, or, steel cut oats, still have much of their outer “bran” attached, making it chewier, and also helping you to fill fuller. Both instant and other types of oatmeal have soluble fiber that you’re looking for, however, the latter will keep you fuller, longer.
      Also, be careful with the added ingredients in instant oatmeal…most of them have additives and sugar and all other artificial stuff. I suggest getting the plain and throwing in some nuts, fruit, etc.
      Hope that helps!


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